The biggest problem with going wireless is just how much battery wireless uses up. You unplug the charging cord and then you're getting the low battery warning before you know it. Okay, sure, it was three days, but it feels like a lot less. And then, if you want to throw a wireless mouse in your backpack, you need a charging cord to go with it. Or an extra set of batteries. Now, Logitech's new Lightspeed tech, assisted by its new Hero sensor, is here to make that a thing of the past with its new wireless mouse and mechanical keyboard, the G603 and G613.
Live Long and Prosper
Battery life is at the core of both of these devices. Before we talk about battery life, though, I want to go into some of the features used to squeeze every electron out of the AA batteries that power these.
The most immediately obvious element missing from both of these are the RGB LEDs. Despite how trendy and fun RGB LEDs can be, they're a huge drain on battery life. They work pretty well on Logitech's rechargable mice and even better on the PowerPlay mousing system, but they have no place in efficiency. And you won't miss them. The only light coming out of these devices are a couple indicator lights that let you know when the battery life is low or which mode the device is in.
Speaking of modes, both the mouse and they keyboard have a couple modes that can be used to both maximize the effective battery life of the devices as well as improve their flexibility.
Both devices have Lightspeed Wireless and Bluetooth modes. The Lightspeed mode requires that you plug the Logitech dongle into your computer. The Lightspeed dongle promises ultra-low latency use suitable for competitive gaming, while Bluetooth offers extended battery life and the promise of connecting to just about anything. If you're a Bluetooth user, both devices feature a spot to store the Lightspeed dongle onboard to keep it safe when not in use.
The mouse steps it up one additional level. In addition to the Bluetooth mode, there are two Lightspeed modes that you can toggle between at the flick of a switch. If you turn the mouse up to the high reporting mode, it'll ping your computer at a 1ms rate, which is the kind of responsiveness you want when you're diving into Dota 2 or trying to max out your score in Doom's high-intensity arcade mode. The low reporting mode drops the rate down to an 8ms, or about 125 times per second instead of 1000. This mode is better for things like office work, browsing, and image editing.
And they're not kidding when they say these options make a difference.
On a pair of AA batteries, the keyboard should get about 18 months of life, depending on how many hours a day you spend using it. If you leave the mouse on "high," it'll get 500 hours of use, or about 6 months according to Logitech, out of that same pair of batteries. If you don't do much gaming, though, and leave it on low mode, Logitech tells me you can expect to get 1400 hours out of the mouse. That 1400-hour lifetime goes for the mouse's Bluetooth mode, too. Finally, there's the sensor in the mouse. The G603 is one of the very first mice to use Logitech's new HERO – High Efficiency Rated Optical – sensor. According to the company, this new sensor is ten times more energy efficient than the previous sensor without any loss of sensitivity or responsiveness.
Here's the rub: there's no real way to test the limits of that battery life in the time frame of a review. But I can say that after extensive use, Logitech's software isn't showing any drop in its little battery indicator.
Cirque du Logitech
Along with that long life comes flexibility. Some of that flexibility sits entirely in the ability to set the mouse to modes suited to gaming and regular use, but it's not just that. The presence of both Lightspeed and Bluetooth modes means that you're not attached to just one device. If you plug that Lightspeed dongle into your computer and sync the Bluetooth radio up to your phone or tablet, you can switch between the two just at a moment's notice. You could connect the Lightspeed to one computer and the Bluetooth to another, making it a simple matter to switch between devices. The keyboard even includes a cradle for a phone or tablet to make switching between Bluetooth and Lightspeed that much more enticing.
Another element of flexibility provided by the mouse lies in the batteries. A pair of AA batteries can weigh anywhere from 30 to 55g depending on whether you go with Lithium or Alkaline. Logitech's G900 high-end gaming mouse weighs 107g total, for the sake of comparison. To that end, the G603 mouse can work with just one battery or two. Two batteries will obviously mean longer battery life, while one takes a big chunk of the thing's internal weight. It's a neat way to combine the weight customization in gaming mice and the flexibility offered by the ubiquitous AA battery.
It's all good so far, but let's dive into the product-specific features to figure out where each stands individually.
The G603 mouse is, in many ways, pretty standard Logitech fare. The shape of the mouse is identical to the G403 and G703. It's a right-handed mouse with forward and back buttons. It's the quintessential Logitech mouse.
The batteries are hidden under the grey panel that makes up the entire top of the mouse. While the lack of separate mouse buttons will bother some, I don't mind it. The top panel is held on with some small but strong magnets, and you can pop it off and replace it with very little strength. Despite that, it doesn't ever feel loose, nor does it feel any more like a separate piece than the top panel on the G403. When those little lines do get gummed up as they eventually will on any mouse, you'll be able to pop the top off and clean in places you wouldn't normally be able to.
The 603 has a lot going for it. The new sensor, the flexible battery options, and the ability to switch modes mean that you use it just about anywhere with a flat surface without worrying about an extra cable. At $69.99, it's a stellar deal that stands as one of Logitech's absolute best mice. If you're a dedicated competitive gamer, you might want something lighter. For the rest of us, though, this is an excellent mouse.
The G613 keyboard, too, is a great piece of hardware, though a couple elements keep it from reaching the heights of the mouse.
The board, like all of Logitech's other gaming-focused keyboards, uses Logitech's Romer-G mechanical switches. I've adapted to them since I first started using the G810 keyboard a while back, and they've become my preferred switches over Cherry MX, Kailh, and other keyswitches.
This is a huge keyboard, you guys. And that's both a strength and a weakness. This is a full-sized keyboard, complete with a numberpad, a built-in wrist rest, and even a set of six programmable macro keys. If you want a minimalist look on your desk or don't like wrist rests, the G613 might be right-out.
And really, the overall build of the board is its biggest downfall. It's not bad in any way, but it's not great, either. The wrist rest is pretty plastic-y, and doesn't have any kind of material over it for a more comfortable feel. Since it's built in, that's just something you'll have to deal with. And where so many Logitech keyboards have had some nice, premium-feeling media keys, the keys on this one aren't anything special. Instead of a volume roller, the G613 just has buttons. They do the job, but they're not amazing.
The macro keys are placed at the far left-hand side of the keyboard. It seems like fairly logical placement, but I often found myself hitting the topmost of the macro keys when I meant to hit the escape key – there's a learning curve, in other words.
The other part that makes the keyboard tough to swallow is the price tag. Where the feels like a steal at $69.99, the keyboard rings up at $149.99. That's actually not bad – it's only about $30 more than the G810, and $10 more than the G910. Mechanical keyboards are inherently pretty expensive, and all the brand-exclusive features in Logitech's keyboards kick up that price a little bit. I'd love to see the whole line drop in price, but if other keyboards in the line are appealing, this one shouldn't lose much luster.
The battery life and flexibility of the G603 and G613 alone make them appealing pieces of hardware. They have all the usual Logitech benefits of reliable build quality and a generally good "feel," but they offer wireless functionality with very few compromises. I'd love to see the G613 offered as a tenkeyless model, and with an optional wrist rest, but as it is, it's still a piece piece of hardware worth a look.